Summer is just around the corner and the sun is starting to peek out from over the horizon. Soon, hiding under hoodies and sweatpants will be a distant dream. Which means now is the time to start working out.
One of the hardest parts of getting in shape is garnering enough motivation to start. But, could motivation be closer than you think? Could it be as simple as putting on a trendy pair of vibrant leggings and matching breathable top? Maybe so.
At least researchers at Northwestern University think so.
“It’s all about the symbolic meaning that you associate with a particular item of clothing,” researcher Hajo Adam told Atlantic magazine. “I think it would make sense that when you wear athletic clothing, you become more active and more likely to go to the gym and work out.”
In 2012, Adam and his partner Adam Galinsky conducted a study to test the theory of “enclothed cognition,” which simply put is just how your clothing affects your performance. Adam and Galinsky tested this theory with lab coats to see if a person’s ability to complete a task increased while wearing professional clothing. The results overwhelmingly showed that clothing affected performance. And this theory carries across the board into more than just scientific wear. Wearing workout clothes essentially creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.
“You think that other people will think if you’re wearing those clothes, you’re a workout woman,” psychologist and personal trainer Susan Rudnicki told The Daily Mail. “I see girls at hatha yoga wearing Lululemon clothes, and they look the part and I think ‘they must be really good. They have their life together.’ I’m an instructor and even I feel that.”
When you dress in a way that suggests that you are fit, it makes you feel the need to prove it. Because others are more likely to see you in this light, you might subconsciously feel pressure to be the person that you are portraying with your clothing.
So, if athletic clothing helps your performance, does a higher price ticket mean more motivation? Not really.
“We found these amazing quality independent brands that were based more on fashion and function than just function,” Donna Burke, creator of Yoga in Heels told The Atlantic. “I think it doesn’t matter as far as price point, if you feel good about yourself.”
But, you shouldn’t run straight out and buy up a whole new wardrobe.
“People who get a totally new wardrobe-that’s never really a good sign. Too much, too fast to accommodate your routine and lifestyle,” Rudnicki says.
The key to this, as with everything, is moderation. Don’t over commit yourself or your wallet. Though a whole work out closet, a la Khloe Kardasian, is what dreams are made of, there’s no need to buy everything at once. Start out with a few tops here and a few stretchy pants there. Eventually, you’ll reach your fitness goals and won’t need to rely on your clothes for motivation. But, an extra shirt or two never hurt anyone.
Photo Credit: Lululemon